After takeover bid, Unilever announces major restructuring

THE HAGUE: Consumer products giant Unilever plans to sell its spreads division and combine its foods and refreshments units as part of a major review of operations prompted by a $143 billion takeover bid by rival Kraft Heinz that fell through in February.

The Anglo-Dutch company also announced Thursday a 5 billion euro ($5.3 billion) share buyback and raised its dividend by 12 percent, a move the company said reflected "increased confidence in the outlook for profit growth and cash generation."

Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman said in a statement that he is confident the changes "will accelerate the transformation of Unilever and the delivery of sustainable shareholder value over the long term."

The news pushed up shares in Unilever, which had started the day lower. By midday, they were up 0.8 percent at 46.94 euros in Amsterdam.